SPIRE UNIVERSITY OF THE THIRD AGE
Charity Ref. 400/379/98
The Spire U3A meeting on August 14th at the Memorial Hall Harnham was well attended and included a number of new members.
The usual announcements were made including details of the walk this month. Various people were available if any members wanted information on the groups they run. The Salisbury U3A Group list and a contact name were available too should members be interested in any of their groups that had spaces available.
The talk was on the Military History of Fovant in World War One. The speaker was Margaret McKenzie, the Secretary of Spire U3A, who has researched the history of the village at that time.
One can only imagine the impact of 40,000 soldiers on a village of 400 inhabitants. The army used the farmland so labourers lost their jobs but soon found jobs working for the military. A cinema was built with two performances nightly where seats were prised at 2d and 6d or reserved for 1/-. Forty shops sold everything the soldiers wanted and all this was a benefit to the villagers too. A hospital with over 600 beds took up one site and included housing for the staff as well as the needs of the hospital.
The Fovant History Interest group set up a museum in the village Inn where visitors to the pub can see the artefacts. Fovant Badges Society was formed and they keep the badges cleared of weed as well as freshening them up with chalk from time to time. The badges slip downhill with time so the hillsides have to be stabilised. There were about 35 badges in 1918. Two more were cut after the Second World War. Now, however, the number has reduced to just a few.
Margaret showed some pictures of some of the soldiers and nurses and was able to tell the history behind the pictures. A number of Australians trained here before being sent to France and their government still assists with money for the badges upkeep. It was a talk enjoyed by all the members who will remember it as they next pass through Fovant.
The next meeting is on September 11th when John Ericson will be give a talk on 'Optical Illusions'.
For membership enquires: 01722 321731
Contact: Sheila Read 01722 501218